The most important thing when submitting short fiction stories is to follow the guidelines carefully. Generally speaking, when you submit to a literary journal or anthology, include:
1. A simple, brief cover letter including the story title, any prior publications (in fiction) and a brief, relevant author bio. If you’re simultaneously submitting the same work to multiple publications, the proper etiquette is to mention that fact. Thank the editor for his consideration. (Keep in mind that a cover letter is not the same as a query letter that you might send for, say, a novel; don’t summarize the story, state its universal themes or attempt to be memorable in your cover letter. Let the work speak for itself.)
2. Your manuscript, double-spaced, with a header containing your name, story title and page number. The first page should include your contact information (address, phone, e-mail). Some writers include a word count, though for short fiction stories this isn’t absolutely necessary. If the guidelines direct you to submit a hard copy, paper clip (rather than staple) the manuscript. If submitting via e-mail or through an online submission manager, follow all formatting instructions. Some want you to attach a document in a specific format; some request your manuscript be pasted in the body of an e-mail.
3. A self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) if submitting a hard copy, so that the editor can notify you when the work has been accepted or rejected.
Also check out these items from the Writer’s Digest’s collection:
Writer’s Digest Weekly Planner
Writer’s Digest No More Rejections
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Scene & Structure
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Description
Writer’s Digest Elements Of Writing Fiction: Characters & Viewpoint
Writer’s Digest How to Land a Literary Agent (On-Demand Webinar)
Writer’s Digest Magazine One-Year Subscription
Writer’s Digest 10 Years of Writer’s Digest on CD: 2000-2009